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Three Arizona senior living and care advocacy organizations are partnering to promote “common sense solutions” for long-term care and counter negative perceptions of providers that appear in the lay media.

The Arizona Assisted Living Federation, Arizona Health Care Association and Arizona LeadingAge have formed the CARE (Communication, Accountability and Responsiveness in Eldercare) Coalition to focus on improving resident safety in assisted living communities, memory care and skilled nursing facilities.

Under the tagline “Who will care?” the coalition plans to promote positive news stories in a public awareness campaign primarily targeting stakeholders including lawmakers, who are eyeing increased oversight of the industry following articles about assisted living communities and nursing homes in the Arizona Republic and assisted living and memory care communities in The New York Times and KFF and The Washington Post.

“Despite the remarkable efforts of our workforce, the prevailing narrative in the media often unfairly tarnishes our entire industry based on the actions of a few bad actors,” Arizona LeadingAge CEO Jaime Roberts told McKnight’s Senior Living. “Our mission is to counter this narrative by highlighting stories of compassion, empathy and the positive impact our providers have on lives.”

A pressing concern for operators, Roberts said, is recruiting and retaining a skilled workforce in the face of this negative attention. The coalition aims to amplify the industry’s dedication and showcase its “meaningful and essential” work, she said.

“We envision this coalition as a beacon illuminating the outstanding efforts being made despite the daunting challenges we face,” Roberts said. “While it’s common to hear calls for providers to meet certain expectations, the broader narrative often overlooks the intricacies and complexities of our work.”

According to the coalition, the cost of caring for older adults has increased 35% since 2019. The group is advocating for a $9 million increase in long-term care funding to increase the availability of quality options and improve access to care by hiring qualified staff members and preventing workforce shortages.

The trio noted that 85% of long-term care facilities are reporting staffing shortages, and 94% of facilities ask staff to work overtime or take on extra shifts. 

Formed in December, the coalition still is in the organizational phase. It includes owners and operators from each of the three associations. Roberts called the coalition a testament to the cooperative spirit of the three groups.

“This collective effort reflects the state’s penchant for uniting to address challenges and forge solutions,” she said. “This diversity fosters a rich tapestry of perspectives, all converging with a shared goal of crafting a comprehensive roadmap for the future.”

Read more about the CARE coalition in sister publication McKnight’s Long-Term Care News.